Day I – On the beach:

As we drove down across Sonora we passed through the smaller towns as we made our way down Highway 8 toward Puerto Penasco. Although our family has been coming down to Puerto Penasco 3-4 times a year since before my older brother could walk, because of work and school we hadn’t been down as a family in too many years.

We had crossed the border without any issue. The Mexican federal police didn’t even check us. The American CBP had asked us where we were from, and if we had any weapons, he did a cursory inspection and waved us through. We drove through the barricades and barriers, crossed the Mexican lines, and drove through into Mexico.

Driving and traffic in Mexico are a little different, the rules here are based off an older ideal of law, what some might refer to as Napoleonic Law. We carefully worked into traffic and continued on our way. As we neared Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) we began to smell the sea. Salt was on the air, the wonderful smell of ocean, sand, brush and fresh air. We drove down to the junction and took a right, heading out to our plot on Sandy Beach (near Cholla Bay). For 22 years we had stayed on the other side of the point. First at El Mirador, then we’d moved down from Manny’s to Playa Elegante, after almost 15 years there the park was closed in as the area was being marked for development. In 2008 we’d moved our 33ft 1982 Carrylite fifth wheel trailer to this side of the coast.

We passed the mammoth hotels and resorts, some half constructed, others complete, still others rusting away, the structural steel exposed to the harsh salt and oxidation that would one day reclaim them. The recession had hit hard, the news of cartel violence hit even harder. Investment has ground to a crawl, because of the news and fear, white American tourism has needlessly almost ground to a halt. Now it has been replaced with a different type of American tourism, those unafraid to visit and travel here. It is heartening to see a more ethnic mix of tourists visiting and patronizing the beaches, still, the tourist population is a weak shadow of what it once was.

We pulled around the last corner of our drive, crossing the sand roads and turning toward the Reef trailer park. We drove through security, down along the beachfront sites, and came across our trusted trailer. Water, WIFI, electricity, a queen bed, two big bunks, a full kitchen, bathroom and shower, two pull out beds, and space enough on the site for tents and my Hammock… All for $19 a night. We paid a little extra to have a beachfront spot.

We pulled the car under the hitch, tucked into our site and jumped out to meet our parents. They’d had lunch waiting for us. We stepped out of the trailer, walked down the beach a little toward the water, plopped down our chairs, and sat, enjoying the clear blue waters, the cool breeze, and constant thrush and rush of the waves crashing against the sand. It was perfect. We talked for hours, sitting and enjoying the quiet of the beach and water. There were three other people walking the beach… for as far as we could see, it was ours.

As night fell, we pulled out an old washing machine drum and started a fire in it. We gathered around and began singing old family songs, letting the orange glow of the fire dance across the glowing sand, as the stars above glittered and reflected like white and blue diamonds and yellow amethyst in the water.

The lights of the port danced and called out to us as the night deepened the quiet crashing of the waves and the gentle whistle of the breeze accompanied us as we set up my brother’s tent and my hammock outside. As we said our goodnights I climbed into my hammock, safe and warm with a fluffy pillow and fell asleep knowing that my memories of this world and this life were becoming reality with every breath.